EghtesadOnline: Oberbank, one of Austria's biggest banks, has allocated a €1 billion ($910 million) line of credit to finance investment projects in Iran, Austria's finance minister announced in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Tehran on Sunday.
"Negotiations between the two countries' central banks have also been finalized while there are a number of Austrian banks interested in establishing correspondent relations with Iranian banks," Hans Jorg Schelling was also quoted as saying by Shada, the official news service of Iran's Economy Ministry.
Jorg is leading a high-ranking Austrian delegation consisting of government officials and major Austrian banks and companies' representatives who have traveled to Iran to promote bilateral trade, expand economic relations and resolve banking issues.
Iran's Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia pointed to his last year's meeting with Jorg in Vienna and called for speeding up the process of boosting economic relations, Financial Tribune reported.
During the meeting, the two ministers agreed on implementing changes in their trade laws to avoid paying extra taxes and expand customs collaborations in line with the European Union regulations.
The Austrian minister made some proposals regarding the issue to Tayyebnia.
Jorg added that reaching agreements for extending legal guarantees to develop economic relations and attract investment of Austrian companies in Iran has been one of the goals of this trip.
He noted that mutual relations have significantly progressed since their last meeting and Austria will do all in its power in the European Union and international organizations to strengthen Iran's position and develop its international ties.
"The government's guarantees for companies that intend to invest in Iran have quadrupled during the past year and I certainly believe trade volume will bounce back to what it was before Iran's sanctions," he said.
Austrian Banks Coming
Governor of the National Bank of Austria Ewald Nowotny, who also attended the meeting, told reporters afterwards that constructive ties have been established between the two countries' central banks.
"A bank account was opened for the Central Bank of Iran in OeNB during the CBI governor's visit to Austria last year, while a specialized Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism educational program was held by OeNB for Iranian banking experts," he added.
Nowotny noted that Austrian banks are eager to guarantee investments in Iran and transfer money for Iranian banks while one of the biggest Austrian banks is going to resume its Iran activities in the near future and the bank's CEO is also among the delegation.
Helmut Steurer, the head of the Chamber of Commerce of Austria’s Vorarlberg region, had announced last year that major Austrian banks plan to open branches in Tehran following the removal of Iran's nuclear sanctions.
"Key banks such as Bank Austria and Raiffeisen Bank International would be specifically interested in cooperating with their Iranian partners," he said.
Jumpstarting Trade Ties
Tayyebnia also said the Austrian delegation is in Iran at his invitation after his last trip to Austria led to very beneficial negotiations and extension of economic ties.
"A task force was established for last year's trip to Austria to focus on mutually interesting issues such as avoiding extra taxes, conducting customs agreements, supporting foreign investment and fostering banking ties. This invitation for the Austrian delegation was to boost the previous agreements and determine what to do next," he added.
Tayyebnia also announced after the meeting that Iran and Austria have agreed to increase bilateral trade from the current $400 million to $5 billion per year within the next three years.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration’s data shows Iran-Austria trade declined from $818 million in the fiscal 2011-12 to $312 million three years later due to the imposition of international economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
Tayyebnia noted that it is clear both countries are proceeding with goodwill and "hope to achieve effective results after these negotiations and meetings".
He said the Austrian delegation will also meet CBI's governor and the ministers of oil and industries.
"Our goal is to foster investments and economic relations by engaging in jointly-manufactured goods and exporting them to the regional countries," he said.
Tayyebnia pointed to the recent terrorist attacks in Tehran and asked for international unity to combat terrorism in the world.
"AML/CFT is on top of our mind and the international regulations are being implemented in all organizations and institutions, especially in banks," he said.
Major European banks have so far kept their distance from Iran, despite its nuclear deal with world powers, out of fear of running afoul of remaining US sanctions.